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Prabhakaran The Greatest  Military Strategist  And Adroit Political Tactician!

(V.Thangavelu)

Valvettithurai was a famous port during the  Jaffna Kingdom which existed from the early 13th century to 17th century ( AD121-1619). It was in this port city Prabhakaran was born on November 25,1954. He was the youngest of a family of one brother and two sisters. His father was a government official who worked under  the  Sri Lankan government. 

The 1958 racial riots resulted in the slaughter of thousands of defenceless Thamil people living in the south by marauding Sinhalese thugs. One of the victim was a Hindu Priest at Panadura in the south who was thrown alive into a melting tar barrel and burnt to death.  Years later when this ghastly story was narrated to Prabhakaran by an elderly widow it left an indelible   feeling of  pity coupled with anger  in the young boy’s  mind.  Still in his teens, Prabhakaran  perceived  that  it was cowardice on the part of the Tamils to run away when attacked by  Sinhalese mobs.   He thought the Tamils, at least the youths, should stand and fight back unmindful of the consequences. Because, he argued within himself, that the alternative would be abject slavery. Not surprisingly his school days heroes were Subash Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh both India’s freedom fighters.  

Prabhakaran  had no illusion that  the path  that lay ahead  was not paved with  roses and that there was a definite price to pay. But he was ready for the sacrifice. Towards this goal, at the tender age of 14, he joined  with seven other like-minded  youths,  who invariably were very much senior to him,  to form a group . Interestingly the group’s first attempt to buy a revolver for Rs. 150  had to be abandoned for lack of funds  despite young Prabhakaran selling the ring he was  presented at his sister’s wedding for Rs.70!  His involvement   in  extra- clandestine political activities resulted in his early drop out from school while studying in the 10th standard.

 Prabhakaran’s parents were unaware of  his clandestine activities till the Police knocked at their door  one day at the unholy hour of 3 a.m. Sensing trouble Prabhakaran sneaked out  through the back entrance. He was only 19 years old  at that time  and he never returned home thereafter.  He soon became a full time activist living under ground and moving from place to place to escape arrest by the Police.

 The repression unleashed by the Sinhala government against the Thamil people reached new heights at the beginning of  1970s. All peaceful protests by the Thamil people resulted in more repression and not less. The youths at that time saw the necessity to form a revolutionary political movement to fight back the racist government. The result was the formation of Thamil Students Organization ( Thamizh Manavar Peravai) in 1970. Prabhakaran headed the most revolutionary wing of the TSO.  

Since he was one  of the youngest member of the organization everybody called him “Thambi” meaning younger brother. This nickname in course of time became “Annan” meaning elder brother.

Toavoid arrest by the Sri Lankan Police, Prabhakaran escaped to Thamil Nadu. But he soon returned to Jaffna and founded the New Thamil Tigers ( Puthiya Thamizh Pulikal) in 1972. When he was only 17 years of age he became both the leader and the  military commander of NTT. The first military operation carried out by the NTT was the assassination of Alfred Durayappa who was the Mayor of Jaffna and the Organiser of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party on July 27, 1975.

This was the first warning shot to all those Thamil Quislings who collaborated with the enemy viz the racist Sinhala government.  

In  May 1976 the NTT was renamed “Thamizh Eela Viduthalai Pulikal” ( Liberation Tigers of Thamil   Eelam). He remained both the political as well as the military head of the LTTE. The objective was to turn the LTTE into a mass-based organization. Under the direction and guidance of Prabhakaran, LTTE opted to choose the path of guerrilla warfare against the Sinhala armed forces. On May 25,  1978 LTTE claimed responsibility for carrying out 11 military operations mostly against Thamil collaborators. The government responded with a law proscribing the LTTE in 1978.  

Unable to stem the tide of revolutionary violence unleashed by the LTTE, the Jayewardene’s government enacted the notorious Anti-Terrorism Act on the 20th of July, 1979.  Reminiscent of Hitler’s order to Rommel  to  annihilate all forms of Semitism;  J.R. Jayawardene  gave orders to his nephew  Brigadier Weeratunga to go to the North and destroy all forms of terrorism  within 6 months, that is  before  December 31, 1979.  

But far from being destroyed, the LTTE grew in strength carrying out spectacular assaults on the police and the army. The first ever attack on the army took place on   October 15, 1981 at KKS Road, Jaffna in which two soldiers died. This was followed up with a series of attacks culminating in the ambush of an army patrol on July 23, 1983 at Thirunalvely in which 13 soldiers got killed.   Prabhakaran was one of the 14 LTTE cadres who took part in this ambush led  by Lieutenant   Sellakili who attained martyrdom. All hell broke loose in the South when the 13 dead bodies were flown to Colombo for burial. Thousands of Thamils were slaughtered by the Sinhalese hoodlums  lead by Buddhist monks in yellow robes and millions worth of property were destroyed.  

Under the able leadership of Prabhakaran, the LTTE which started with a sole pistol has now grown into a conventional Thamil National Army of 20,000. The military genius of  Prabhakaran has been proved time and time again in  Eelam War 1, 11 and now 111.

 

Not only Prabhakaran’s admirers, but even his foes have paid tribute to his   character and personality, his dedication   and his natural military abilities, both strategic and tactical. Jyotindra Dixit, former Indian  High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and later India's Foreign Secretary  wrote  thus:

 “First, the character and personality of its leader V Pirabakaran who is disciplined, austere and passionately committed to the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils' liberation. Whatever he may be criticised for, it cannot be denied that the man has an inner fire and dedication and he is endowed with natural military abilities, both strategic and tactical. He has also proved that he is a keen observer of the nature of competitive and critical politics. He has proved his abilities in judging political events and his adroitness in responding to them. ” (Assignment in Colombo).  

Prabhakaran was once asked at an interview as to who was his friend, philosopher and guide? The reply he gave was very characteristic of him.  Nature is my friend, Life my philosopher and history is my guide.  

Again he was asked how he felt to be the most wanted man in Sri Lanka today? Prabhakaran  replied in his own inimical style as follows:   

                       “ An Irish leader once remarked that when the British
                        indict a person as a terrorist it implied that he was a true

                        Irish patriot. Similarly when the Sri Lanka government
                        refers to me as the most wanted man it means that I am a
                        true Tamil patriot. Hence I feel proud to be  indicted as a
                        wanted man. ” 

Asked about his assessment of J.R.Jayawardena he replied stating “if he was a true Buddhist I  would not be carrying a gun!”   

 “Unceasing Waves 1”  military offensive launched in July, 1995 saw the  total annihilation of  the well fortified   SLA military complex at Mullaitivu. More than   1,200 troops were  killed.  And “Unceasing Waves 2” resulted in the over-running of the SLA’s military camp at Kilinochchi in September, 1998.  This attack on Kilinochchi army camp came only days after the Deputy Defence Minister boasted that 96% of the war was over! 

The current “Unceasing Waves 3” planned, co-ordinated and directed  personally by Prabhakaran, who is the Commander in Chief of the LTTE forces,  swept 10 military camps in 72 hours beginning November 2, 1999.  The LTTE forces under his command  rolled   back the SLA troops from the eastern sector of Vanni negating all the territorial gains made by the army over a period of  2 years. After pushing the Sinhala army all the way to Omanthai, the LTTE is now pounding the Thallady army base in the Mannar District.  When Thallady, the biggest and the oldest (1990) army camp in the North falls,  it will be a humiliating defeat for the Sri Lankan army and a stunning victory for the LTTE.           

Prabhakaran’s 45th birthday falls on November 26, 1999. Today  he is a folk-hero and the undisputed National Leader of Thamil Eelam. He is also considered as the greatest military strategist and  adroit political tactician in the annals of Tamil history.